Padre Pio

Colm Keane Capel Is­land 2017 Pb, 213pp, €14.99, ISBN 9780955913396

Fortean Times - - Reviews / Books -

It is re­gret­table that ra­tio­nal­ists gen­er­ally have a knee-jerk re­ac­tion to the men­tion of ‘mir­a­cles’, usu­ally re­fus­ing to ac­knowl­edge even the slight­est pos­si­bil­ity that there might be some­thing of value be­hind the sto­ries. What­ever they are, in their many forms, there is a sur­feit of wellob­served ac­counts by sober and in­tel­li­gent and very well-qual­i­fied ob­servers and wit­nesses – and this book is a case in point.

Colm Keane presents a new col­lec­tion of first-hand en­coun­ters with the Ital­ian Ca­puchin monk Francesco For­gione (1887– 1968), canon­ised as Saint Pio of Pi­etrel­cina in June 2002, more fa­mous for his man­i­fes­ta­tions of all five stig­mata. Padre Pio’s life, moods, opin­ions, piety and sense of hu­mour are fleshed out in this highly read­able por­trait, as ex­pe­ri­enced by peo­ple who in­ves­ti­gated, vis­ited or stayed with him at the monastery of San Giovanni Ro­tondo at Fog­gia.

Of in­ter­est to us are the many new and en­light­en­ing de­tails about his phe­nom­ena; e.g. Fr Alessio (Pio’s as­sis­tant for six years) on see­ing the stig­mata: “They were hor­ri­ble to look at. I had al­ways wished to see them, but once I saw them, I prayed ‘God, don’t ever let me see them again.’ His hands were like those of a leper, they were so cor­roded.”

Other ac­counts tes­tify to the saint’s bilo­ca­tions, telepa­thy, and heal­ings among other ‘gifts’, and his love of the Irish.

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